Home Wireless Security Systems Review

A neighbor was burglarized a few days ago, and although the idea of yet another monthly charge was upsetting to me, I decided to check out what options were available.  I called ADT, Brinks, Metro Guardian, Protection One and Protect America.

I went into this knowing nothing other than a few of the big names, and was very surprised on what I found.

From very early on, most companies wanted to sell me a wireless package.  And since that sounded like the best solution, all my reviews are for each companies wireless package.

Each place I called offered a near identical package:

  1. Keypad
  2. Keyring FOB
  3. 3 Sensors, used on doors or windows
  4. 1 Motion sensor

Where each differs is their up-front cost, the monthly monitoring charge, the length of contract you must sign, and the per item charge for add-ons.

At the end I will discuss what I chose and how much money I landed out saving – and trust me, it will surprise you.

 

ADT

ADT is the most expensive system and they are not ashamed of it.  Talking to ADT was great.  The rep on the phone was paid on commission and sounded like someone I could trust and told it to me straight.  His viewpoint was that yes they were more expensive, but that you get what you pay for, and their products were better.

ADT does not outsource their monitoring like most other do.  They have 5 different monitoring centers around the US, and boast that they have the quickest response times, and smallest amount of false alarms because of their great monitoring and products.

Their “wireless” system has a fully wired brain that could sit in your closet, with all the components then being wireless.  They use an Ademco/Honeywell wireless system.

ADT was also the only one of the group that admitted on this post that their Motion Detectors  don’t work too well with pets, no matter what anyone says.  The false alarms, they found, were unacceptably high.

Total Price: $894 up-front, $35.99 per month for 2 years.

Add-ons:

  1. Motion: $165
  2. Glass Break Sensor: $150
  3. Door/Window Sensor: $70

 

Brinks

Brinks will absolutely not quote any prices about their wireless product over the phone.  They will only do so by setting an appointment.  So I can only assume that their wireless product is more expensive.

The woman I spoke to made me feel I was talking to a McDonalds drive through attendant.  She failed at being able to directly answer my questions, and too often would go on long dialogues of reading off a script.

I was told from another source that Brinks did not offer a fully wireless system, so I asked her “Is your wireless FULLY wireless, or are the brains wired in?”.  She answered, “We offer a Wireless system that gives you…” and she would continue spouting the glories of her system, all not answering my very specific system.  I asked her 3 seperate times, varying my question, all getting pretty much the same, rote answer.

Total Price:  $99 up-front, $29.99 per month for 3 years (for wired product)

Add-ons:

  1. Door/Window Sensor: $70
  2. Didn’t bother asking about other products

 

Protection One

Protection One would not talk about anything over the phone. I met a nice enough guy at my house today and we spoke about their offer.

Protection One sells both the Ademco/Honeywell Wireless Security System and the GE Concord 4; the latter is what they showed me in my house.

The GE Concord 4 is very similar to the GE Simon 3 that Protect America offers, with the major differences being the LCD on the keypad, and the brains wired into your house in a different location.

This is both good and bad.  Having a completely wireless solution like the Simon 3 is easier, but if someone were just rip it off the wall before it had a chance to call the police, it would fail to work.  So having the brains somewhere else protects you against that.

This problem is also easily fixed with the Simon 3 by just putting the keypad in a more central location which would give you enough time before a burglar could find it.

In order to get the Concord 4 through Protection One, you are forced into buying the GSM Module that allows the system to call your monitoring service over their cellular network.  This adds significantly to the price of the quote, and adds $10 more per month for the monitoring.  Although this is a great option, in every other product I can choose to add this myself; I don’t like being forced into it.  Yes, my phone line could get cut by a burglar, but since the majority of burglaries are done by amateur kids, I don’t think it is necessary.

Other than that, the Concord does everything the Simon 3 does:

  • X-10 Compatible
  • Ability to monitor remotely through web
  • Can arm and disarm by calling the system
  • Can use a Key FOB to arm and disarm system
  • Extremely customizable

Protection One’s pricing almost made me chuckle.  The same door and window contacts I can get here for $18, sell for $81.

They also do their own monitoring.

Total Price: $398, $42.95 per month for 3 years

Add-ons:

  1. Motion: $139
  2. Glass Break Sensor: $140
  3. Door/Window Sensor: $81
  4. Smoke: $130

 

Protect America

The horribleness that was Protect America cannot be written succinctly enough in a couple paragraphs.  I was lied to many times, the sales woman was pushy but was supposedly, “not on commission”.

You can view the full scathing review here.

Protect America does offer probably the only fully wireless alarm system, the GE Simon 3.  With this system you get many features you just don’t find in basic packages with the other companies.  It is so customizable, I will devote another article to just this system.  It is a VERY cool system.

Unfortunately, Protect America should be treated like a scary person in an alley.  Just turn around and walk away.

Price:  FREE, $34.95 per month for 2 years

Their add-on’s are much cheaper than everyone elses, but I didn’t bother to break it down.  For example, if I were to get 10 Window/Door sensors and 2 motion detectors, it would be only $300 up-front.

 

Metro Guardian

Despite a storm taking out their computers, the guy helping me was very nice and as professional as ADT.  I trusted what he said, although everything he said I had heard so many times prior, “we also give you a backup battery, 24 hour monitoring…”, yadda, yadda.  It is amazing how each person tells me the same things and make it sound how they are the ONLY ones that offer it.

All in all, I really liked how I was treated with them, and being a smaller, independant company, I like that they try to earn my business without gauging me with ADT prices.

Metro’s wireless system is made by Honeywell.

Total Price: $49, $32.95 per month for 3 years

Add-ons:

  1. Motion: $99
  2. Glass Break Sensor: $99
  3. Door/Window Sensor: $65
  4. Additional Keypad: $125
  5. Outdoor siren: $125

 

What I decided

After I spoke to Protect America and found out they use the Simon 3, I googled and found a company that not only sold it directly, but pretty much every wireless system I was offered from these companies.  In fact, I found several companies that sold them, but after speaking to SafeMart, I decided to purchase through them.  They have been so nice through each of my 4 phone calls, and I have spoken to a different person 3 of the 4 times.  I also contacted Home Security Store, but the guy seemed more annoyed with me than helpful.

Safemart also recommended the Simon 3 over every other system because of the ease of use and installation.

The other great part of using Safemart, is that they have $9 monitoring through Criticom, who even Metro Guardian uses and charges you $32.95 for.

Additional accessories are also much, much cheaper, while others aren’t even possible to get with most of the companies I spoke to:

  1. Sensor: $18 – $30 (depending on quantity and type)
  2. Motion: $59 – $100 (depending on the type)
  3. Keychain: $29 – $38
  4. X-10 tranformer: $15
  5. Outdoor sensor: $125 – $145
  6. Smoke: $84.50
  7. Glass break: $69 – $85
  8. Carbon Monoxide: $115
  9. Water sensor: $53
  10. Freeze sensor: $55

So if I price a basic package like I was offered through each company, it will cost me about $248 plus whatever shipping is.  And when you then factor in the $9 no contract monitoring, it adds up to a big savings.  For three years, this would cost me about $600!!

Now, compare this $600 with every other quote I got (over 3 years):

  1. ADT: $2,189.64
  2. Protection One: $1,658 (without the Cell add-on)
  3. Protect America: $1,258
  4. Metro Guardian: $1,236
  5. Brinks: $1,178

I can also add Smoke, fire, flood, and carbon monoxide monitoring for free, where as that would cost another $3 – $10 per month with each company.

Also worth noting is how much would be saved when you factor in all the additional sensors you actually will need, and the fact that you will probably have the system running for a long, long time.  I would much rather be paying $108 per year, than up to $516, that’s for sure!

In Conclusion

I don’t expect everyone to want to install the system themselves.  And if you are that type of person who would rather pay more to not have to deal with it, then definately go with the company you feel most comfortable with (as long as it isn’t Protect America!).  You will be paying almost 4 times more per year for the benefit, but that is your choice.

Me, I am very happy with my choice, and cannot wait to get my Simon 3 installed and customized.

78 thoughts on “Home Wireless Security Systems Review”

  1. Thanks for the unbiased straight talk about the subject. A couple questions. First, are in a city, urban or rural area? Would the answer to that lead you to a specific system? Second, the wireless systems, how often do batteries have to be changed? Also, the post by “Ryan” concerning the “Secure Link” system. Have you had the opertunity to review it. Thanks. Jack

  2. Scott,

    I read your research into the various systems. It seems like you really compared the different companies very well, however, I am a bit disappointed in the fact that you never actually installed the system you recommended. This, to me, is mind boggling. I don’t understand how you can do all of that research, make recommendations, then not follow through.

    Unfortunately I can’t take what you have worked so hard on seriously and I recommend that others follow suit.

  3. Thank you for your post. I was about to sign with Protect America when I saw it. Iwould have been paying $50/month plus $300 upfront. I just ordered the Concord 4 as my existing Concord Express hardware from ADT is compatable with it. Total was $400 ($600 before rebates) and I have my dream system with monitoring as low as $9/month. Of course, I am going with all the bells/whistles monitoring for $29.99 but this would have cost $55 to $60 with everyone else. My two price is $200 to $200 less then everyone else and the savings become exagerated for any duration beyone 2 years, as it is pure savings at that point.

    Thank you again for the post, you saved me a lot of time.

  4. I totally understand Mike. I did so much research and was just about to pull the trigger just before having our 2nd child. Finances changed dramatically and it didn’t happen. But at the time of the article, I did all the research for the sole purpose of buying it, so it seemed silly to not post it for everyone else.

    If I were you, I would take the notes as ‘notes’ and do your own research and call the same companies I recommend and hear what they say. Then make your own informed decision. Either way, I think you will have been better off than not to have read my post.

  5. Scott,
    I just concluded all of my research. As it turns out there are advantages and disadvantages to all of the various security systems and monitoring services out there. For me, I am a DIY’er so I chose to go with Safemart…..like you would have. The upfront costs are going to by substantially higher than say going with ADT, however, the system I get will be much more secure and the monitoring fees will be about $30 less per month. I will break even in about 20 months. Every month after that I will be ahead $30.

    I chose Safemart simply because when a person buys the Simon XT system Safemart offers their Plug and Protect service. With this, they pre-program all of the sensors, provide signage, window stickers, and include the 1st month of monitoring free. Take off the 1st month and this only costs about $10.00. That can’t be beat.

    I don’t think their customer service was any better or worse than The Home Security Store, but their price for the Simon XT was, even with a 10% discount for HSS. They obviously push this system hard and must have bought bucket loads of GE’s system in order to offer it at a reduced rate. However, if I person truly wants to go as cheap as possible, many of the components can be bought off EBay for much less.

  6. Mike, I have the Simon 3, and just installed a Simon XT for my in-laws. Both system are very easy to install and program. I’m able to dial into either system and arm and disarm with out problems. We use our cell phones to monitor the systems. Both were purchased from SafeMart and I highly recommend them. Good pricing, fast shipping, and excellent tech support when you need it. I’ve had my Simon for about three years, only problem was had to replace backup battery as we have frequent power loss where I live. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.

  7. Thank you, Scott!

    I just met with ADT and they gave me a ridiculous estimate to upgrade my system.

    It’s interesting that the guy told me that if I want to order a new component to my system, I should just order it online.

    However, I should call him directly if I decide to order thebells and whistle package ($499 for existing customrs/$699 for new customers with a monthly monitoring fee of $57.99.
    I appreciate all of your research on the matter.

    I don’t think so!

  8. I was using Monitronics, and a guy came by from a company known as Vivint, out of Utah. He gave me a big song-and-dance, and I listened to him. Lots of smooth talk, how much cheaper they were, how much better service, police hook-up, the whole bit I agreed to go along, and his team of donkeys came right into my home and dismantled the other “stuff” and installed theirs. He sas such a smooth talker, I didn’t notice the installation cost of almost $2000.00 until I was done. I wrote them the next week to cancel my system. Hope to hear from them in a day or so (after Easter). Plus, they gave me two different passwords, and when I telephoned their office, the guy was arguing with me about which one was correct.

  9. Thanks Scott for the informative research for the rest of the posted articles. Everybodys comment has been very educational for me.

    I will check safemart tomorrow. I presently used x10. I have had it over 8 years. The motion sensor is known for false alarms so I got rid of it but NOT the rest of the gadgets (windows and door detectors) since this cost me over $200 years ago.
    I do my own monitoring through using my phone. I paid the city only about $35 for 2 years. Of course they can only respond 2-3 x per month I think else they’ll begin to charge you.

    I can program it to call my wife up, myself up to 10 phone numbers.

    I intalled dummy cameras outside the house and ordered fake sign on the yard. It seem to work but I thank the good Lord for no brake in yet. I do often see suspecious people out there sometimes surveying my home. I’m not paranoid but where I live there are many would be thieves. If you’re not observant, you wont detect them.

    Blessings,
    ted <>>><<

  10. There are really few systems which will offer comprehensive security. Most of them have the basic package to offer with very limited reliability.

  11. Don’t forget about the now famous 6 second break-in!!Check out
    The Garage Shield.It is really simple to install and inexpensive.

  12. I should have read this review before I got with ADT. I have been with ADT for three months now. The other day someone broke in my home meanwhile I was asleep. I called asking why it didn’t go off and their response was: WELL, WE ONLY PUT FOUR SENSOR AND THAT WAS FOR YOUR DOORS. BUT IF YOU LIKE YOU CAN PURCHASE SENSOR FOR YOUR WINDOW. The key pad I have it’s for people who have doors and window sensor and I was told that it would be secure. When I had called to cancel they said I had to pay 75% of my three year contract. I had told them I read the guarantee for six months if not satisfied. The response was WELL, WE APOLOGIZE AGAIN.

    This is their money guarantee: http://www.adt.com/wps/wcm/connect/a479d10041359c47836583c0ef0abfd6/L7232-04-ADT-GuaranteeCert4up.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

    ADT IS NOT ALWAYS THERE.

  13. There is now a system by DSC called the Alexor that is almost completely wireless. You do have to have a wire for power to the panel and a phone line if you want it to call out, but everything else is wireless.

  14. One thing to be aware of: The term “Central Monitoring”, in my experience, is often over-exaggerated. In the north east US, this often entails a TWO-WAY monitoring between your home and the alarm company’s central office. Therefore, if your phone line IS severed (for any reason), the alarm company will immediately know about it. Think of this as a “heart beat” monitor at the hospital; if you pull of the wires, the nurses are immediately notified on the computer screen located on their desks.

    Many companies incorrectly use this term, to their advantage. In most common installations, it’s a ONE-WAY monitoring service where the unit in your home is DIALING (outbound) the alarm company to notify them of the event.

  15. Thanks for all the info and comments. We had a break-in last week, 1st time ever, so now pursuing alarm systems. Can’t do a hard line bc of the way the house is constructed. My hubby is a DIY guy so thanks again!

  16. Scott, great review, and the public responses have provided some very valuable information in this decision process. One question: Why do you have a Protect America banner ad at the top of your web page? It almost appears that your are endorsing their services.

  17. Metro Guardian … sounds suspiciously like Guardian Protection Services. Tweaked name with the same old schlok. (I did desperate telemarketing – harassing people once-upon-a-time for them.)

  18. Scott – thanks for keeping this thread going – it’s informative, even if somewhat dated (2 years old). As a military guy, I’ve lived in quite a few places and used several alarm companies. Never took the plunge on a DIY solution, but am about to do so for my parents. Bottom line, I’ve used ADT [once was enough] – I was gone 3 weeks per month of that time, and realized one day that they had never called when I accidently set it off myself… So I called them and they said they had no record of my system, even though they’d been cashing my checks for 18 months – go figure.

    Seems like there’s a serious niche market for post-construction wireless installers/maintainers/monitors. All of your readers had better do their homework – I’ve spent the last few days googling tags related home security systems, and there are tons of sites offering links to links. Lots of these sites use very poor English, and I would imagine those of us who fall for their wares will wind up sending even more US $$$ to Chinese companies – be wary.

    If anyone needs service in the Tuscaloosa, AL area, SAFECO is a local family-owned company with great local support (with remote monitoring @ $20/month) – not sure of their coverage outside the city though. In Pittsburgh, PA, I used GUARDIAN. They too are a family-owned business and they were always prompt, courteous, and they had local monitoring station. I paid $30/month. I had BRINKS in DC but never got a call – only there for a year though – system was already installed and I paid $30/month – never spoke to a local rep, but the 800# support was ok. If I had it to do over, I’d still have gone with SAFECO and GUARDIAN, but the rest would probably have been DIY with personal or neighbor notifications.

    Thanks again for keeping this thread open. Looks like about three hijacks above, probably by salesmen. Young family? Install a security system, no matter WHO monitors it – that goes for you too, Scott.

  19. Hi Scott: Thanks for the review. I am unhappy with ADT because they want $200 to come out and reprogram my alarm system that have used for years. The system will not allow me to add an additional access code. They claim I am using a secondary access code which is will not allow changes. The code has not changed in 25 years. So I started to look around for an alternative and ran across ProtectAmerica. Their web page talks about no up front cost for a self installed system and that is different from your review. What am I missing? Where’s the hidden cost?
    Cheers

  20. The Simon was the worst choice you could make. We offer the absolute best monitoring in the industry for only $95.00 per YEAR. NEVER use a nationwide alarm company. Always use a local company that will value your business and service you so they don’t lose you. These local companies all over the country are always your best choice. Our monitoring even includes on-line services. Next time call more local companies for a real comparison.

  21. ADT is perfect UNLESS something is wrong; their battery going out trouble on their keypad, problem in the interior mechanism within the box located in the home that they install. The system continues to beep, and when you call they set up an appointment the following week, IF they have a free time. They then turn off the system at their location and no service until it is CONVENIENT for them to come and find out what is wrong. WHAT KIND OF SECURITY IS THAT? THIS IS NOT AN ISOLATED INCIDENT!

  22. I am a current Protect America customer and their customer service/sales is horrible. I was looking at this blog to find a different company. I actually had one of the sales rep yelling at me because I changed my mind about purchasing monitoring of a second system with them. I’ve been with them for a year now and after all of the experiences I’ve had with them over various things, from changing my mailing address, to ordering extra equipment, to replacing malfunctioing sensors; I’m more than ready to pay the $1,000 fee and break my contract to go someplace else. Safemarts prices do seem too good to be true, but at least their’s is just a one year contract. So most likely I’ll be changing to Safemart.

  23. Any one wanting honest opinions with my 35 years in the alarm business is welcomed to email me at “alarmservicepros@gmail.com”.
    Please don’t fall for the $99.00 or free alarm scam.

  24. Excellent article and comments. Lots of good ideas to follow up on. I will post once I’ve decided which way to go.

  25. I agree with you completely on the misleading approach used by Protect America. The sales persons (two of them) lied to me about what I needed and sold me too much. Luckly for me, their installer was honest and told me I did not need all the equipment they had sold me and sent to me so he took most of it back and got me a refund! WORSE: Protect America was supposed to charge my credit card every month but they didn’t do it right and constantly sent me nasty letters saying I had not paid! I finally paid the remainder of my contract and now I have to start all over again! What a racket!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *